A proposed $369 billion bill would have far-reaching impacts on America’s energy landscape — and in many different ways. The Washington Post picked up a close look at its tightly targeted tax subsidies for the energy industry. “The goal? Making new green energy generation cheaper for utilities to build than fossil fuel plants.” But others also benefit:
The bill contains a number of smaller measures aimed at specific parts of the economy with high emissions: $20 billion in agricultural subsidies to help farmers reduce emissions, $6 billion to reduce emissions in the chemical, steel and cement industries factories and $3 billion to reduce air pollution in ports.
But how do you convince a congressman from a coal-producing state? Politico examines what swayed one of the recent legislative votes and convinced West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin that “The next generation of clean tech needed Washington’s support to take off.”
Brandon Dennison, chief executive of economic development organization Coalfield Development, said he argued the legislation offered a way for the coal-mining region to “remain an energy state … If we are to take advantage of the investment and jobs that will come with this transition , we need to be part of proactive solutions and policies instead of constantly playing defense.”
Jason Walsh, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, said several West Virginia companies have pushed Manchin to also support the credits — even suggesting that failure to pass the bill jeopardized their plans to invest in new operations. . “There were people that I can’t talk about that are directly involved in potentially developing clean energy generation in the state of West Virginia that had site visits where all they needed was a set of investments,” said Walsh. “And that communication also happened.”
A senior executive at an Appalachian utility company said his company had communicated with Manchin about aspects of the bill, such as tax credits for building clean energy plants at former coal sites and incentives for developing small nuclear reactors and hydrogen will help West Virginia’s economy. “We know that coal plants will eventually be shut down,” the executive said. “What will replace them? What are the jobs? What are we moving to? In this case, we will explore hydrogen, new nuclear atoms and start production in the state.”
Form Energy, a battery storage startup backed by Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures that has plans for a manufacturing center in West Virginia, walked Manchin’s staff through its growth trajectories with and without the proposed set of legislative incentives, said a person directly familiar with the interaction. That person said Form Energy officials showed the differences on the schedule. His investors — including Gates — also called to assuage Manchin’s concerns about paying out tax credits to companies through a direct-pay system instead of using tax stock markets.